When Terminator: Genesis was first announced it was assumed they were going to mimic the JJ Abrams Star Trek strategy whereby you reboot a franchise by using one original cast member (Leonard Nimoy’s Spock for Star Trek, Arnold Schwarzenegger for Terminator) to bridge the gap between then and now, honoring the before by contextualizing the new material as existing in an alternate timeline. After all, Genesis was re-casting all of the famous franchise roles just as Abrams did with Star Trek. So, we used to have Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, and Edward Furlong/Nick Stahl/Christian Bale as Sarah Connor, Kyle Roose, and John Connor respectively; Genesis will give us Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, and Jason Clarke in those same roles. The only carryover from the prior Terminator films will be Schwarzenegger. So, they’re totally going with an alternate timeline, right? Come on – time travel is right there in the premise of the story.
That still seems kind of true. However, MovieHole previously argued we should drop the Star Trek comparisons, and instead think of Terminator: Genesis more in terms of the second half of Back to the Future 2 when the events of the first film are depicted from the points of view of future versions of Marty McFly and Doc Brown. Basically, if the people making Genesis had been behind Abrams’ Star Trek instead of using an entirely original plot to establish an alternate timeline as he did they would have simply recreated the events of a famous Star Trek episode or film but with new actors. Something at a crucial point in the story would go very differently than it had before.
Got it? No? Just imagine the first Terminator film if there was an older, non-evil version of the Schwarzenegger Terminator lurking on the sidelines to offer a different point of view on everything. Wait, how exactly will that work? Don’t ask me – it’s not like I’ve read the script or anything. Somebody who has read the script, though, is HitFlix’s Drew McWeeny. So, in response to a viewer question he offered the following observation in a recent videopost:
“Kind of like Back to the Future, the Terminator: Genesis script folds into the first film in the series…. There’s a scene in the script where literally, we see the scene in the first Terminator where Arnold steps out, the punks threaten him, he rips Bill Paxton’s heart out and takes his clothes and wanders off. And as soon as that scene ends, another Arnold Schwarzenegger who’s older, and bearded and a very different version of the Terminator, comes walking in from the other side and plays another scene, right at the scene of that first incident.”
McWeeny admits he has no idea how they actually intend to pull that off, though. Use archival footage from the first film? Re-create the scene with new actors? If so, will Arnold Schwarzenegger play both roles as the young T-800 and the older, bearded T-800? Will they have a body double for him as the younger model, but use CGI to put his face on top of him like Terminator: Salvation? We don’t know. However, McWeeny did have this to say about the script in general:
“It certainly feels like what they’re trying to do now is go back and show us the original film, the ’84 one, through a different set of eyes and from a different perspective to get into the idea that you can’t truly alter anything. The more you try you’re just going to create fractured timelines. There are some great ideas in the Terminator: Genesis script, and I’m not surprised by that. Laeta Kalorgridis and Patrick Lussier are both very strong writers, and I’ve liked a lot of their work in the past. I’m still not entirely sure I’m getting anything new from this, or that it has to be made […] This might be the most interesting version of [treading water] that I’ve read. I’m curious to see if the final film tells me that it is a necessary story.”
That will most certainly be a question many of us will be curious to see answered: will Terminator: Genesis do enough to justify its own existence to the hardcore fans, but will it try too hard and come off as impenetrable to the casual fan?
Nuts to that. Just listen to the Terminator 2 theme music, and let the nostalgia overcome you:
As for the continued Back to the Future comparisons, they probably aren’t going away anytime soon. So, let’s pause and watch a cartoon which proves that at the very least HowItShouldHaveEnded.com dreamed up a potential Terminator-Back to the Future cross-over years ago:
Terminator: Genesis is currently due out in the US and Canada on July 1, 2015.
Everything We Know About Terminator: Genesis | weminoredinfilm.com